Phillies Vs. Pirates: Opening Day Begins Tough Early-Season Schedule

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 26: Pitcher Roy Halladay #34 (R) and Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies sit in the dugout during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 26, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Pirates face Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee in their first two games this season.

The Pirates kick off their 2012 season at PNC Park with a matchup against the Phillies Thursday afternoon at 1:35.

More: Pirates vs. Phillies Game Thread

Roy Halladay will face new acquisition Erik Bedard, thus beginning a brutal early-season schedule for the Pirates. They face Halladay, then Cliff Lee on Saturday, then Vance Worley on Sunday, then go on the road for a tough West Coast swing that includes series against the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks, before heading back to Pittsburgh to face the Cardinals and Rockies.

David Todd and I discussed the Pirates' schedule Tuesday night in a new episode of the Bucs Dugout Podcast. The danger here is that the Pirates flounder against the Phillies and other tough early-season competition and finish April 10 or so games below .500. If they can avoid that, they'll have a decent chance of keeping their heads above water for a while.

If you're heading to the game on Thursday, the Post-Gazette lists new features at PNC Park this year, including a new bar in right field.

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